Tuesday, June 24, 2014

23 Chops in 37 Seconds








Beyond Wrestling's YouTube VOD of the battle between the Dojo Bros (Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong) and the team of Biff Busick and Drew Gulak is stunning. For $2.99, you get a 2,555-day rental (that's seven years, by the way). It's the climactic main event of BW's Point of No Return show, shot in Providence, Rhode Island, last September 15th, a sweat-soaked 31-minute turf war between two teams composed of wrestlers equally gifted as heels and babyfaces. They're heel enough not to back away from anything or stint on the brutality. They're babyface enough to inspire the crowd's empathy and devotion. The crowd is divided, but easily the most vocal among them are in the Dojo Bros' corner.

There's some mat grappling in the early part of the event, but mostly we get stiff chops, a lot of them--hence the title of the free preview "23 Chops in 37 Seconds," where Eddie and Biff take aim at some kind of record. Given the stark lighting of the ring and its outer boundaries,  much of the match looks like the movie Fight Club, only with no skinny movie stars to be seen. Naturally, the mayhem spills out of the ring onto the concrete floor amid the enthusiastic fans, where wrestlers' spinal columns suffer serious trauma against the edge of the ring. We get some no-punches-pulled corner beatdowns too, as well as the expected flurry of two-count near pins as we approach the end.

What impresses me the most is the division of labor between the two sets of partners: for most of the match Eddie is assigned to fight Biff, and Roddy to fight Drew. I think of this arrangement as a "big buddy little buddy" duo. More often than not, the big buddies (Biff and Eddie) fight each other, then tag in the little buddies (Drew and Roddy), often simultaneously. I find these alignments thrilling and sexy. The drama gains poignancy as the camera catches two wrestlers battling, while not too far away is a solitary partner outside the ropes, aching to get a tag.  The groupings do not, of course, rule out double-teaming, and in the final ten minutes of this match, the duos are permanently dissolved in a hair-raising split, as the four men are in the ring together, one big buddy trying to submit the other team's little buddy while his little buddy tries to submit the other team's big buddy. In the end, we see the four men in the ring together again, trading punches, Biff versus Roddy and Eddie versus Drew.

After the climactic finisher (a big buddy holds a little buddy down for a full three-count pin), we see a sweat-drenched Biff devotedly attending to his exhausted little buddy, Drew. Eddie grabs the microphone. He extends his hand and heartfelt congratulations to Drew. Then he turns to Roddy for a hug and a pat on the back. Then he turns back to Biff, the crowd buzzing with expectation. "Biff Busick," Eddie says, "it's still not over between you and me." Good news for lovers of good wrestling. The big buddies plan to tangle again ... in an iron-man match ... and then, before parting, the antagonists bump shoulders in a show of grudging respect.


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